Cell processes impact breast cancer research

Citing his excitement in visiting what he considers to be among the top academic health centers in the nation in cardiovascular research, a University of California breast cancer researcher discussed free radicals during a Dec. 13 President’s Lecture Series presentation.

“Every time I visit, I feel like I’ve found a hidden jewel,” said Dr. Gautam Chaudhuri, Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and Distinguished Professor and Executive Chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, during his lecture.

He discussed his research that suggests excessive production in malignant cells of superoxides, toxins deployed by the immune system to kill invading microorganisms, can cause breast cancer cells to proliferate in humans. Although non-malignant cells also generate superoxide radicals, the production in malignant cells is extreme.

“Production of hydrogen peroxide acts as an endogenous growth factor, and therefore cancer cells continue to proliferate,” Chaudhuri said.

Superoxides and nitric oxide can react to cease the proliferation of breast cancer cells, but can also cause apoptosis, or cell death, in certain concentrations.

“It’s important to look at bioactivity as well as interpreting results,” Chaudhuri said. The processes that occur in cells can give insight into the mechanisms that impact the growth of cancer cells and the death of healthy cells.

His team has also found increased expression in cancer cells of a common enzyme called catalase, although the bioactivity of the enzyme is actually decreased.

“It is possible that catalase underexpression may have an important part to play with the human breast cancer model,” he said.

Chaudhuri is the third lecturer in a series that aims to enrich the GHSU experience by inviting distinguished national leaders and scholars to address faculty, students, residents, staff and the community on issues and trends affecting the academic community in general and academic health centers in particular.

He is a member and Chairman of several Site Visit Teams for the National Institutes of Health and is former Chairman of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Obstetrics and Pharmacology Research Unit Steering Committee and the NIH Maternal and Child Health Research Committee Study Section.

He is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecology and of its Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and is a member of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, the American Fertility Society and the British Pharmacological Society.

He earned his medical degree from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi and a doctoral degree from Charing Cross Hospital Medical School at the University of London. He completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the State University of New York in Buffalo and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UCLA.

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